Art by Rob Goldstein

50 Years of Angry White People: Dividing the Democrats

In 2016 angry white people were in the news.

Why were they angry?

Michael Kimmel, a Professor of Sociology, called it an aggrieved entitlement.

A November 2015 survey of 3,257 US adults conducted by Esquire and NBC produced the following bits of data: white people are more likely than black people to say their current financial situation isn’t what they thought it would be when they were younger, and they were also more likely to put that down to difficult circumstances rather than “wrong choices”.
When asked whether they ever hear or read anything on the news that makes them angry, white respondents were more likely than black ones to say they felt angry at least twice a day. There were gender differences too – men were more likely than women to say that they felt angry about the treatment of white men.”Esquire

In the 1960s, Southern whites were angry about integration and desegregation.

They hated John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson for using the power of the Federal Government to protect the civil rights and the safety of black students who wanted to enroll in school.

Art by Rob Goldstein
Wanted poster from Dallas, Texas, November 1963.

When President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, angry white people decided the Federal Government was a ‘problem.’

The Government was too big, they said.

The Government had no respect for individual liberty (white privilege).

In 1969, GOP strategist Kevin Phillips wrote The Emerging Republican Majority.


Newsweek called The Emerging Republican Majority the political bible of the Nixon Administration.

Kevin Phillips stated to New York Times Magazine in 1970:

“All the talk about Republicans making inroads into the Negro vote is persiflage. Even ‘Jake the Snake’ Senator Jacob Javits of New York only gets 20 percent. From now on, Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote, and they don’t need any more than that… but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.”
New York Times Magazine

In my research of Kevin Phillips and the Southern Strategy, I found image files at the New Yorker website of a 1971 Memo to H.R. Haldeman from Pat Buchanan. Pat Buchanan wrote ‘Dividing the Democrats anonymously. 

George Packer, a columnist at the New Yorker, describes how he got the memo:

“I wanted to hear tales of the Nixon years, and Buchanan—between writing his syndicated column and getting ready to drive to the studios of MSNBC for a televised political talk, which he called “bread and circuses”—was happy to oblige. After all, he’d been present at the creation of the themes and tactics that led to forty years of conservative domination of American politics, and he was proud of it. At one point, he mentioned a memo that he’d written for Nixon in 1971 under the heading “Dividing the Democrats.”

Art by Rob Goldstein

Packer describes Dividing the Democrats as a Machiavellian primer on the vulnerabilities of the New Deal coalition.

“It reminded me of how relatively gentle and civilized the supposedly vicious campaign of 2008 has been.“  George Packer

Art by Rob Goldstein

Dividing the Democrats was the foundation of the Republican Southern Strategy to stoke racism and division to turn White Southerners against the New Deal.

Journalist Dan Baum wrote in the April cover story of Harper’s about an interview with John Ehrlichman in 1994 while working on a book about drug prohibition.

“You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” Harpers

Dividing the Democrats Screenshot 4

In 1980 angry white people elected Ronald Reagan.

They got their wish, and the government shrank.

Reagan cut funding for public education.

He closed community colleges.

He ended federal grants and scholarships to the poor.

He cut funding for community mental health programs.

Art by Rob Goldstein

When President George Herbert Walker Bush lost to Bill Clinton in 1992, angry white people got even angrier.

They didn’t like Bill Clinton.

They didn’t like Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

They didn’t like AmeriCorps and the idea of public service. 

And they really didn’t like his uppity feminist wife who wanted to give universal health care to the undeserving (black people).

So they organized, and in 1995, they elected a GOP House that did everything it could to destroy Bill Clinton.

The ‘Gingrich Revolution’ also did everything it could to further destroy economic opportunities for the poor:

More cuts to education.

More cuts to community mental health.

More cuts to federal vocational programs.

Lifetime limits on access to welfare.

In 2000 angry white people fought recounts in Florida to prevent a Gore Presidency:

“As angry as conservatives have felt over the nearly three weeks since Election Day, a clear turning point in this remarkably twisting story line came Friday, when Joe Lieberman stepped up to liken GOP protesters in Miami-Dade County to a “mob” trying to “intimidate” vote counters. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-Manhattan) chimed in, saying the Miami-Dade rally had a “whiff of fascism.” Conservatives see these statements – along with other Democrats’ invoking of the Voting Rights Act – as efforts to silence protests against recount outrages.” The Brooks Brothers Riot

At last, angry white people thought they had a ‘Southern’ President to make sure that no part of the government would go to the undeserving (Black people).

But something went wrong.

An African-American, Barack Hussein Obama, became President in 2009.

He spoke of a nightmare scenario of healthcare for everyone, including the undeserving (Black people).

When the Affordable Care Act was passed and signed into law in 2010, angry white people got furious and formed an angry right-wing Tea Party Movement. 

In 2014, with a combination of right-wing activism and liberal apathy,  the Tea Party Movement helped elect a partisan hard-right House and Senate.

Angry white people had a racist House and Senate that was openly hostile to the first African-American President. They had Fox News to tell them the lies they wanted to hear, and they used the power of their local governments to make sure that no one in their states got anything they didn’t deserve, and the lives of angry white people got worse, not better.

They have shorter life expediencies. 

They have less education, and their children are more likely
to grow up in poverty, sick, and malnourished.

Paul Krugman of the New York Times wrote:

“…social collapse in the white working class is a deadly serious issue. Literally. Last fall, the economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton attracted widespread attention with a paper showing that mortality among middle-aged white Americans, which had been declining for generations, started rising again circa 2000. This rising death rate mainly reflected suicide, alcohol and overdoses of drugs, notably prescription opioids. (Marx declared that religion was the opium of the people. But in 21st-century America, it appears that opioids are the opium of the people.)
And other signs of social unraveling, from deteriorating health to growing isolation, are also on the rise among American whites. Something is going seriously wrong in the heartland.”
On Invincible Ignorance

In 2016 the Russian Federation under Vladimir Putin launched a psychological attack on the United States and our 2016 Presidential elections.

Putin had a preferred candidate, and it wasn’t that uppity feminist, Hillary Clinton.

Putin’s preferred candidate won.

The nation’s angry white people finally have a president as white, and as dishonest, and as racist and angry as they are.

His lies have killed 200,000 thousand Americans.

He helps tyrants murder journalists and allows Vladimir Putin to place bounties on the lives of our soldiers.

He disparages members of our armed forces as dopes and losers.

He uses Russian propaganda to pervert the Constitution and subvert the rule of law.

He has destroyed the economy, alienated our allies, compromised our National Security, and brought the United States to its knees.

In 2016 Terrance Heath, a writer for the Huffington Post, compared America’s angry white people to two-year-olds:

“The behavior we’re seeing is basically the extreme of the Republican base kicking and screaming because they believe that if they throw a big enough tantrum, they can hold off change, turn back the transition period already begun, and keep things the way they are — or go back to the way they were.”

He suggested we pick them up and carry them forward with us:

“…we pick up the tantruming toddler under one arm — in such a way that he doesn’t hurt himself or anyone else — and carry him forward with us. It doesn’t mean the tantrum ends right away.”
Terrance Heath The Tyranny of the Tantrum

But we have not carried our nation’s angry white people forward; they have dragged us backward and are driving us our graves.

It is 2020.

America’s angry white people are still angry.

And we are dying.


First published March 28, 2016-Revised and updated September 20, 2020

(c) Rob Goldstein 2016 – 2020 All Rights reserved

Header image by Rob Goldstein



34 thoughts on “50 Years of Angry White People: Dividing the Democrats

  1. Excellent shares Rob. I do have to say what shocked me most was the Wanted posted on Kennedy – are you friggin’ kidding me????????????? Listen, parts of America have always been racist, the only difference now is that King Covidiot opened Pandora’s box and condones. The world is getting a glimpse at how racist America is. A sad time for the world 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The United States has struggled with racism since before the Civil War. Racism is a plague on our nation; it poisons all of our institutions. But racism isn’t confined to the usual semi-literate suspects in the deep south. Upper middle class white journalists discuss trump’s racism as a possible path to ‘winning’ the presidency. Most of these journalists are well educated and probably consider themselves enlightened. But our press as an institution is racist, so it doesn’t occure to our journalists that to discuss racism as a political strategy is to accept it, and to accept a president who uses racism as a political strategy is racist.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hear some of our pundits ask why he’s still in office, but they never stop to consider that describing his racist appeals to division as a ‘political strategy’ makes them sound as cluelessly amoral as the president is.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Your 50 years of interesting facts, basically point out that nothing has really changed… and could even be worse… the whites are still demanding their “God” given privilege…. obviously most of them did not read the scriptures properly, nor have the desire to apply their religious beliefs properly….. probably why I’ve religion away…. compassion and righteousness have been fold-up between the “Book” covers….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the visit and the comment, Ivor. Things have changed inasmuch as the idiocy of a radical right wing minority controls the executive branch of our government. ‘Divide the Democrats’ was a how to for pandering to racists and conspiracy theorists who would vote against their own economic self-interests thus giving their power to a wealthy elite that was using them. By using the Southern Strategy doing the GOP destroyed our middle class and gave our worst enemy everything he needed to finish the job. In fact, Putin had very little to do given that the GOP was already using the Kremlin’s propaganda techniques. It’s so frustrating to know that 200,000 Americans have died from greed and stupidity.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, the elite can’t use those tools without a corrupt and willfully ignorant white working class to manipulate. In the age of the internet, anyone who can use a computer and doesn’t look for facts when lives are at stake is profoundly decadent. I hope I’m not coming across as to sharp. California is in flames, my president is an international disgrace, I’m desperate for this nightmare to end. Thank you for responding, Ivor. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you, the pleasure is mine. 🌏 I’ve 3 cousin’s and all their families in Philadelphia, and I try to keep in touch with what’s happening in America..

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Some people of color think all Jews are white and part of that angry white movement and yes, some are, but many are not. I think the more we try to categorize who is, and who is not, the more we fail. We need to get categories out and reality in. Easier said than done. I wonder if a time will come when the angry white person (or for that matter, any hateful person of any color and background) will be a thing of the past? Is it human nature? Or is it part of a disease of oppression? Only time will tell. Women are still second-class-citizens, not as much progress as hoped for, given how long women have been part of this world 😉 I expect it’s human nature to want to dominate others by condemning them in some manner. Gays, women, Blacks, Hispanics, someone, anyone, as if this is a necessary rite of passage. I know people who are NOT like this of every color and creed. It is my hope they are the ones who pass on their learning. This is such an article that all should read.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We are in a state of evolving away from the beast of our origins. Unfortunately, using our brains takes more effort than indulging our passions.

      We don’t know how many times this planet or any other planet has played host to a beast that might have become an angel if it had let itself live.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ah. Very true. I thought of this the other day also. How many people are now not taken up with gender-roles because as you say, we’re evolving away from our beast of origin. A good thing but a hard thing that scares those who need things not to change. Absolutely true. A wonderful idea, angels if it had let itself live. I feel a poem in that. A bit like the idea we are fallen angels. Even your prose is poetry.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you.

      Given the history, I find it hard to believe that no one else has realized that the mess we’re in now is a direct result of decades of pandering to the irrational sense of entitlement at the heart of racism, religious chauvinism and homophobia.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. You are such a bright, shining star. You articulate the obvious, and see those items that so many simply choose to ignore or deny.


      2. I don’t know if I’m so bright and shiny..but I’ve lived long enough to know that the economic system in the U.S. once worked to empower the people and that we did not die under the lash of a communist dictator as people on the modern right want us to think. Instead we pursued educations, improved the the safety and quality of our work places and extended our lives. The fact that we have so many people from the Roosevelt era still us and healthy in their 90’s should serve as a clue.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Well, to me you are bright, and you are shiny.

        I am so frustrated by those who want something for nothing. Tired, so sick and tired of having some ‘professional’ act like a raving lunatic while we constantly harangue our children for acting like bullies.

        I don’t want ‘Barbie’ from Alaska stepping in to step-up, or suck-up to another know-it-all.

        I’m tired of people wanting to send every single illegal back to countries that have brutalized and threatened to murder their entire families. Who will build the new infrastructure this country so desperately needs? No. I don’t think they get a “free pass,” they have to earn it. Tax them, use the money to fish Social Security out of the quagmire these politicians have thrown it into. Speak English. Yes. Speak MY language. My grandmothers family arrived at Ellis Island from France. Once here, they turned away from their native tongue and embraced the language of their new homeland. Terrorists? That’s a whole other story and too inflammatory for me to approach publicly. I’m not afraid of consequences because having been raised within a family of three retired Navy, I don’t fear what happens to me. I’m red, white and blue. Harm one of my own and “Hell hath no fury,”

        Education? College tuition at 8.5 per cent? Someone should rethink that one REAL quick! Those who can’t pay, don’t. Those that would like to pay, can’t. Those of us who have paid, are mad as hell.

        Take my gun away? I don’t have one. My neighbor does. I can borrow it any time I want. Three-D printer? What caliber do you want?

        A wall? Are you kidding me. You build a wall and they’ll build a tunnel.

        Oh my, Robert. The lioness is out of the cage. I’m heading into the woods and I do not need night vision glasses, and I am the drone! I can drone on and on, all the while knowing that we are tired of being used. It’s time for the politicians to stop playing games.

        Life is real.


        Liked by 2 people

      4. Thank you…but it’s history.

        The main players of the Nixon and Reagan Administrations even admit that what they were doing was purposely inciting racist anger and class division for political gain.

        When people call telling the truth brave I don’t understand it…not that I don’t find it nice to hear, but all I’m doing is recounting the facts.

        Liked by 1 person

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